U.S. to Roll Back Obama-Era Policy on Promoting Racial Diversity in Colleges
The affirmative action policy encouraged educational institutions to consider race as a factor in admission process in order to promote diversity on campuses.
The Donald Trump administration has decided to rescind another Obama-era policy, that encouraged educational institutions to consider race as a factor in the admission process in order to promote diversity on campuses. The policy, known as affirmative action, has been a controversial issue in the United States although it was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2016.
The U.S. Justice Department revoked 24 policy documents, including those involving affirmative action recommendations, on July 3 for being “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper,” the Associated Press reported. The guidelines, published by the Barack Obama administration between 2009 and 2016, were “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, Efe news reported. Sessions said that the changes aim to restore the “rule of law,” the AP report added.
In a joint letter, the Education and Justice Departments said that the guidelines “advocate policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the Constitution,” the New York Times reported.
“The executive branch cannot circumvent Congress or the courts by creating guidance that goes beyond the law and, in some instances, stays on the books for decades,” Devin M. O’Malley, a Justice Department spokesman, was quoted as saying.
The U.S. government’s move comes even as a lawsuit is being heard over the Harvard University’s alleged bias in enrolling Asian-origin students. The civil lawsuit against Harvard was brought in 2014 by an advocacy group called Students for Fair Admissions, on behalf of 64 Asian American groups. The lawsuit claimed that the university intentionally discriminates against Asian American students, thereby violating the federal civil rights law.
Harvard denies the allegations.
In the recent admission process at Harvard,1,962 applicants were offered admission to the Class of 2022, of whom 22.7 percent were Asian American, 15.5 percent were African American, 12.2 percent were Latino, 2 percent were Native American, and 12 percent were international students.
The termination of affirmative action policies was criticized by Democrats and civil rights organizations, IANS reported. The rollback of “vital affirmative action guidance offends our nation’s values,” Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, said, calling it “yet another clear Trump administration attack on communities of color.”
The policy created by the Obama administration said that while race should not be the primary consideration during the admission procedure, schools could consider it in order to boost diversity within the campus. “Institutions are not required to implement race-neutral approaches if, in their judgment, the approaches would be unworkable,” the guidance said, according to AP. “In some cases, race-neutral approaches will be unworkable because they will be ineffective to achieve the diversity the institution seeks.”